This year will be my fourth full year here, and I am delighted that the UK–Japan partnership is in such good shape—driven by our close friends and partners at the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
The UK and Japan are close allies. Our business, political and cultural partnerships go from strength to strength. We are old friends, but this is turning into a dynamic alliance.
We live in uncertain times. Global challenges to our rules-based international system require global partnerships. I am delighted that from January, Japan and the UK will both be sitting at the world’s top table, the United Nations Security Council, for the next two years. We support Japan becoming a permanent member.
The spotlight will also fall on Japan in 2016 as it hosts the G7 Summit in Ise-shima, where our prime ministers will meet.
We were delighted that Britain was recognised by the UN in 2015 as the second-most innovative nation on earth. On the back of that, we have been bringing together some of the best British and Japanese researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs and technology firms as part of our Innovation is GREAT campaign.
We’ve already hosted over 100 events and talked to millions of people through our media partnerships, dedicated blog and social media channels. This will continue to be a centrepiece of our work this year; please do join us as campaign partners.
Japan is one of our biggest export markets, worth over £10bn. We make all the engines and wings of the new Airbus aircraft used by Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. and All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd.; we are winning important contracts in nuclear decommissioning; and we are helping to bring the best of British fashion and music to discerning customers here.
Continued major investment in the UK by Japanese names such as Hitachi, Ltd., Toshiba Corporation, the East Japan Railway Company and Calbee, Inc.—to mention a few—just goes to show the true depth and strength of our mutual trust as business partners. And we look forward to the opportunities for us both that concluding the EU–Japan Economic Partnership Agreement will bring this year.
We will continue to work with Japanese partners on strengthening our rich cultural and education relationship. Through the British Council, we are working with English teachers in every prefecture to develop their professional skills in response to the exciting changes that are taking place in English language learning and teaching in Japan.
And this year, on the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, we will deliver a fantastic programme of activity in Japan through Shakespeare Lives, a major global programme celebrating his work and influence on culture, education and society.
We want to see more Japanese students take advantage of the UK’s world class courses and facilities and, with our partners at VisitBritain, we want more Japanese to experience Britain for themselves. So whether you visit Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Shakespeare, or Liverpool, the home of The Beatles 50 years after they first arrived in Japan, 2016 is an excellent year to visit Britain’s wonderful and contrasting cities.
Finally, a thank you to Japan for letting England have your brilliant rugby coach Eddie Jones. We hope he will bring England the success that Japan enjoyed at the wonderful Rugby World Cup 2015.
As Japan prepares to host the 2019 tournament and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we shall continue to cooperate closely on preparations—including physical and cyber security—to ensure that these events are safe, secure and enjoyable for all.
So 2016 will be a busy year, but what a great time to be part of this vibrant relationship. I hope that you will be able to join in UK–Japan activities, in whatever form, taking place near you this year.
As well as reading BCCJ ACUMEN, do follow me (@UKAmbTim) and the embassy (@UKinJapan) on Twitter to stay up to date with what is happening. From all of us here at the British Embassy Tokyo and Consulate-General in Osaka, we wish the readers of BCCJ ACUMEN a very happy New Year.